Saturday, February 23, 2013

Book Review: Blueberry Muffin Murder by Joanne Fluke (Hannah Swensen #3)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Fun characters; great story
Cons: It ends
The Bottom Line:
Domestic Diva
And delicious blueberries
A treat all around

This Book Won't Leave You Blue

Blueberry Muffin Murder is the third adventure of cookie baker and sleuth extraordinaire Hannah Swensen. Hannah lives in the little town of Lake Eden, Minnesota where she owns The Cookie Jar, a cookie and coffee shop where the locals like to hang out. Her town seems to have more then its fair share of murders, and Hannah finds herself involved in tracking down the killer.

It's February, and the town of Lake Eden is facing the usual mid winter slump. Hoping to boost their winter economy, they decide to hold their first annual Winter Carnival. Hannah Swensen is delighted about the extra revenue this will bring to her cookie shop. As an added attraction, Connie MacIntyre, celebrated TV chef and cookbook author, has agreed to come and design and bake their Winter Carnival cake.

But when Connie Mac arrives, she quickly makes enemies with her overbearing personality. Hannah reluctantly agrees to let Connie use her shop to bake the cake, but arrives the next morning to find the cake burned and Connie face down in a tin of Hannah's Blue Blueberry Muffins. With her shop closed off as a crime scene and a very good friend, Connie Mac's personal assistant Janie, the prime suspect, Hannah starts investigating the murder. Janie has vanished, making clearing her of the murder even harder. Can Hannah provide the cookies for the carnival, solve the murder, and find Janie?

By all means, note the copy write date. This book came out in 2002, before Martha Stewart's legal troubles began. And yes, there is a certain similarity between the domestic diva and Connie Mac. That slight joke makes the book even more fun.

The mystery itself was very enjoyable. I had a hard time figuring out where this one was going, but the solution made perfect sense. The pacing was great, keeping me interested in what was happening. And the climax kept me glued to the book trying to figure out how Hannah would escape with her life.

The characters continue to develop and mature. Hannah and her sister Andrea make a great detective team, and I love watching them in action. All the supporting characters are back and used well in the plot. Even Hannah's partner's father provides an important clue. Everyone is really starting to feel like good friends. I especially enjoyed watching the love triangle with dentist Norman and police detective Mike heat up.

Topping things off is a writing style that flows well, making for a quick, easy read.

In addition to the great mystery, there are 8 more recipes in this book. While the short stack cookies were a bit of a disappointment, the blue blueberry muffins and the multiple choice bar cookies are great.

My only complaint with Blueberry Muffin Murder was that it ended too soon. If you're already a fan of the series, you'll love this book.

And if you want to find others in the series, here's the Hannah Swensen Mysteries in order.

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